Richard Meadows' piece in the Fairfax papers on minimum wages and living wages should serve as exemplar of exactly how journalists should handle stories where academics weigh in.
Richard emailed me last week asking if I'd be able to give him some comments on WFF, minimum wages, and tax-free thresholds; he sent along his workings on the three scenarios. I told him I wouldn't be able to fact-check his numbers but pointed out one minor glitch when I emailed him the set of notes I posted today. I expect that Matt Nolan did the same. I'm not sure whether Tim Hazeldine emailed notes or chatted with Richard on the phone; Tim doesn't blog.
Richard's piece got the main things that we highlighted. Then, when Matt and I each put up our more extended notes, he linked to those. I'd caught one bit in Matt's discussion that I didn't think was right and noted it in his comments; he revised. A 'gotcha' style journalist might have framed this as me and Matt saying different things and arguing with each other, but it turns out that we didn't really disagree with each other. Matt just hadn't written the paragraph the way he'd intended. And anybody following the link from the Fairfax piece to our posts can check things. Matt's put in tons of useful links to the literature; I was a bit lazier and just used the tags at the bottom of the post to point to the dozens of pieces on the same issues that have showed up here.
Such an improvement on pieces that just copy or cut from academic press releases without even a hint on where to find the underlying work.